Tottenham captain focused on top-four fight not title
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Lloris looking back at chasing pack
Hugo Lloris says Chelsea’s slip-up against Crystal Palace shows the Premier League title race isn’t over – but Tottenham’s captain is more concerned about the top-four fight for now.
Second-placed Spurs’ 2-0 victory at Burnley on Saturday was coupled with a surprising loss for Antonio Conte’s leaders, who had previously been unbeaten since their defeat against Tottenham on January 4.
Mauricio Pochettino’s Lilywhites consequently reduced the gap at the top from 10 points to seven, and their fans sang “we’re coming for you” in the away end at Turf Moor.
However, Spurs are yet to book a second successive season in the Champions League – a feat they have never achieved in the Premier League era - and Lloris is keeping his eyes firmly fixed on the rearview mirror rather than Chelsea’s tail lights.
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“We found out [the Chelsea score] straight after the game,” said the skipper. “Yes, it’s a good feeling because it means even if Chelsea are a big team with big players, it’s not done, even if they have a good advantage of points.
“But honestly, it doesn’t change my mind or the minds of my team-mates. We’re still focused on ourselves. We need to carry on because it’s very tight in the league behind us.
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“Anything can happen so it’s important to stay involved, stay together and keep fighting until the end because we want to finish as high as possible in this league and be back in the Champions League.
“We don’t talk about the title because even seven points is a big gap at this stage of the season.
“I prefer to look backwards and to look at what is happening behind us because this is the final race. It’s a key moment of the season.”
Tottenham had to do things the hard way at Burnley, who boasted the sixth-best home record in the top flight before kick-off.
Harry Kane and Danny Rose were absent again and Pochettino opted to leave Kyle Walker, Mousa Dembele and Heung-Min Son out of his starting line-up due to their efforts for their countries during the international break.
Spurs then lost both of their central midfielders before half-time, with Victor Wanyama and Harry Winks going off injured.
However, a tactical switch from 3-4-2-1 to 4-2-3-1 paid dividends and Eric Dier and substitute Son struck in the 66th and 77th minutes to secure a fifth consecutive victory.
“It’s never easy to manage an away game after the international break, especially after the incidents in the first half where we lost two of our players,” said Lloris.
“But we stayed calm in the game, we kept playing all together and we were rewarded with the win and a good three points.
“Burnley are very respected in the league. It’s not easy to go there and get the three points. It’s one of the best teams at home and they showed that again - but we made the performance we had to make to get the three points.
“I don’t like to talk about what is happening in the changing room [at half time], but you could see in the second half there were some changes in terms of tactics.
“We came out with four at the back in a 4-2-3-1. The gaffer gave some advice and then the players made the difference on the pitch.
“It was not a great team performance, but it was very serious, very concentrated. We avoided a lot of crosses into our box. We won a lot of second balls.
“We were very applied at the back, and togetherness is the key in our team because we know we have the talent up front to score. We did it this time and that’s good.”
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